This article explores the pattern of land use in China to understand the relationships between land use and factors that can be used to predict it. Such understanding is important for development of comprehensive models of land-use dynamics. Correlation and regression analyses are used to identify the most important explanatory variables from a large set of factors generally considered important in predicting the distribution of land use. We found that the spatial distribution of all land-use types in China is best described by an integrated set of biophysical and socioeconomic factors. Specific attention is given to the influence of the scale of analysis on study results. Both data resolution and the extent of the study area influence the discovered relationships. Relationships obtained at a certain scale of analysis therefore may not be directly applied at other scales or in other areas. The relevance of the systematic and quantitative characterization of the land-use patterns in China for the parameterization of spatially explicit land-use models is discussed.
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